Success means different things to different people. Regardless of how you define it, success depends on your goals and what you want from your business in the months and years ahead.
Often, entrepreneurs think of their business goals as achieving specific metrics or dollar amounts. Paying attention to numbers is important, but I believe there’s much more to consider when pondering what success looks like and how to achieve it.
As a serial entrepreneur, I can attest to this: your business affects virtually every aspect of your personal life. From your health and interpersonal relationships to your self-fulfillment and financial security. So I encourage you to think about your short-term and long-term business goals in the context of your vision for how you want to live now and in the future.
Short-Term Business Goals
I consider short-term business goals to be objectives for the months ahead (within one year from the here and now).
Let’s say Elsa is a relatively new business owner. Here are some examples of what she might put on her list of short-term business goals:
- Develop company core values within the next 30 days to help ensure her company’s culture, mission, and vision align with her personal values and ethics.
- Implement a cloud-based project management solution in the next 60 days to streamline company communications so she doesn’t have to stress about important details slipping through the cracks.
- Form an LLC or incorporate her business within the next two months to protect her personal assets from her company’s liabilities.
- Elect S Corporation tax treatment to minimize her self-employment tax burden.
- Adopt a new late payment policy that includes a two-percent late payment fee on 30-day past-due accounts to encourage her clients to pay on time, thus improving cash flow.
- Set up a payroll process and register for payroll taxes within six months so she can hire an employee. Doing so will allow her to focus on the work she enjoys most and spend more time with her family.
- Elect for paperless billing from all vendors who offer it so she can eliminate company waste and align her business with her personal eco-friendly beliefs.
Long-Term Business Goals
Long-term means different things to different people. For this article’s purpose, let’s consider long-term business goals as those to be accomplished a year or more down the line. They provide a way to keep your eye on the prize! I like to view long-term goals through the lens of what I want my life to look like in the future and what must happen in my business to make that vision a reality.
Let’s again consider our hypothetical business owner, Elsa. What might some of her company’s long-term goals examples be?
That will depend on her long-term personal goals. Suppose she wants to:
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Do the work she enjoys most and does best.
- Save enough money to substantially help her kids pay for college.
- Retire by a specific age.
- Be financially secure throughout her retirement years.
Based on those aspirations, here’s what her long-term business goals might look like:
- In the next 18 months, secure one or more investors to provide funding for ramping up production and expediting growth.
- Within two years, expand her business into multiple states (i.e., foreign qualify) to tap new target markets and bolster revenue.
- Within 24 months, have a sales department of at least three employees dedicated to business development and nurturing relationships with prospective customers.
- Launch a new product or improve an existing one every year to keep her company competitive and at the forefront of her industry.
- Expand her e-Commerce website to enable her to sell her products globally within three years.
- Continually develop employee incentive programs to maintain a skilled, professional workforce.
- Increase brand awareness through ongoing networking, marketing, and public relations efforts.
Tips for Creating Your Business Goals
There’s no right or wrong way to set goals, but it can be helpful to keep some best practices in mind:
- Think about what you want your future to look like.
- Consider what must happen in your business for you to achieve that future.
- Write down your goals, making them as specific and measurable as possible.
- Review your goals and adjust or weed out any that are unrealistic.
- Regularly review your goals to assess your progress, identify roadblocks, and adjust your strategy (if necessary).
- Celebrate your successes as you achieve your goals.
The process is not rocket science, but it does require focus, ongoing attention, and commitment.
What Are Your Goals?
As you can see, there’s a theme throughout this article. Business goals directly impact an entrepreneur’s life. As a mom of four, I know this well!
Nearly every decision I’ve made for my company has in some way affected me personally — my finances, my physical and mental well-being, my relationships with family and friends, and more. That’s why it’s so critical to resist setting short-term and long-term business goals in a silo. As you work on your goals and business plan, consider what you want not only for your company but also for your life.